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The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canadamarker, the Supreme Court of Indiamarker, the Supreme Court of Pakistanmarker, the Supreme Court of Ireland, the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the High Court of Australiamarker, the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker or provincial or state supreme courts. In England and Wales and Northern Irelandmarker, the equivalent position is the Lord Chief Justice and in Scotlandmarker the equivalent is the Lord President of the Court of Session.

There can also be a chief justice in the highest court of a constitutive state or even a territory, as it was formerly in Dakota Territory, New Mexico Territory and the Oregon Territorymarker in the U.S.

The Chief Justice can be appointed to the post in a variety of different ways, but in many nations the presiding position is commonly given to the senior-most justice in the court, while in the United States it is often the President's most important political nomination, subject to approval by the United States Senate. Although the title of this top American jurist is, by statute, Chief Justice of the United States, the office holder is frequently but erroneously referred to as the "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court" as well.

In some states the Chief Justice has another title, e.g. president of the Supreme Court.In other cases the title of Chief Justice is used, but the court has another name, e.g. the Supreme Court of Judicature in colonial (British) Ceylonmarker, the Court of Appealsmarker in Marylandmarker.


The Chief Justice is often responsible for serving as chair during private supreme court deliberations, and often is first to voice their opinion. However, most Supreme Courts are non-hierarchical, meaning the Chief Justice does not necessarily have any direct power of control over the actions of the other judges. Their personal ruling is equal in weight to the rulings of any associate judges on the court.

In several countries, the Chief Justice is second in line to the Office of President or Governor General, should the incumbent die or resign, or third, if there is a Vice President or Lieutenant Governor General. For example, the Chief Justice of Canada, if the Governor General of Canada is unable to perform his or her duties, performs the duties of the Governor General.

Apart from their intrinsic role in litigation, they may have additional competences, such as "swearing in" high officers of state; for instance, the Chief Justice of the United States traditionally administers the oath of office at the inauguration ceremony of the President of the United States.

List of Chief Justice positions

See also

Sources and references

(sadly incomplete)

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